Extraordinary footage from an investigation carried out by OneKind, League Against Cruel Sports and Lush has revealed the brutal, military style mass killing of Scotland’s mountain hares on grouse moors. Campaigners supported by Chris Packham are calling on the Scottish Government to take immediate action and end the killing.
Mountain hare shooting is one of many country sports offered by Scottish game estates, and grouse moor managers also organise culls of the animals in an effort to protect red grouse for sport shooting. Mass killing of mountain hares is just one part of the intensification of grouse moor management in Scotland.
OneKind Director Harry Huyton said:
“Our investigation has revealed that instead of restraining themselves, as the Scottish Government has asked them to do, some estates seem to be at war with mountain hares. We filmed large groups of armed men moving around the mountains in convoys, killing hares and filling their pick-ups with dead animals as they go. In one particularly harrowing scene a hare is maimed by a gun and then apparently killed by the gunman’s dog, demonstrating the serious suffering caused by the mass killing of hares on grouse moors.
These extraordinary scenes of carnage have no place in the Scottish countryside. The voluntary approach has failed, and the Scottish Government must take urgent action if it is to prevent further killing before the open season starts once again in August. We have written an open letter calling for an end to the killing, and I urge everyone who values our wildlife alive rather than dead to sign it at www.onekind.scot.”
Ruth Peacey, naturalist and filmmaker for Lush said:
“We knew this was taking place and, although horrific to witness, it was important to gain video footage of these culls to provide evidence to those who doubted. It was the military approach to killing that that shocked our team the most, and I hope that all the footage will be used to bring about changes to provide better protection for mountain hares and stop these large-scale culls.”
Chris Packham, conservationist, naturalist and TV presenter said:
“It is clear that self-restraint is not preventing large-scale culls of mountain hares on grouse moors and, as such, the law should be changed before we lose another iconic species from our uplands.”
Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, Robbie Marsland added:
“The sickening irony of the mayhem we saw on those mountainsides is that it is done in the hope that it will increase the number of red grouse to be shot for entertainment.
“Mass killing of mountain hares is just one part of the intensification of grouse moor management in Scotland. Any animal that appears to threaten the red grouse is targeted by traps and snares or shot. Threatened species like hen harriers are mysteriously absent from some moors. Unplanned tracks and roads scar the hillsides, anti-worming chemicals are left unattended, lead shot pollutes the land and the heather is burned off on a landscape scale – all to ensure that one species will thrive. And then that species is shot for entertainment.
“No one seems to be quite sure, but it looks like getting on for up to 19% of Scotland is a grouse moor. In the context of a national debate about land reform we believe now is the time to ask if this is how we want our land to be used.”
Mountain hare killing is not monitored in Scotland, however an estimate from an SNH study suggests that 25,000 mountain hares were killed in 2006/7. This is understood to be between 5-14% of the total population. It is thought that approximately 40% of those killed are shot for sport shooting, and 50% as part of organised culls.
The charities are calling on the Scottish Government to impose an all year-round close season on hare shooting until a review by Lord Werity on the issue concludes.
Notes to editor:
- The footage can be viewed here.
- OneKind is a Scottish animal protection charity working to end cruelty to Scotland’s animals.
- The League Against Cruel Sports is Britain’s leading charity that works to stop animals being persecuted, abused and killed for sport. The League was instrumental in helping bring about the landmark Hunting Act. We carry out investigations to expose law-breaking and cruelty to animals and campaign for stronger animal protection laws and penalties. We work to change attitudes and behaviour through education and manage sanctuaries to protect wildlife. Find out more about our work at www.league.org.uk. Registered charity in England and Wales (no.1095234) and Scotland (no.SC045533).
- OneKind’s report Mountain hare persecution in Scotland is available here.